THE artist's tour to pay tribute to masterpieces or to find inspiration in exotic locations seems a quaint tradition in our age of incessant global travel and digital immediacy. Nevertheless, this tradition lives on in the contemporary artist's residency and ART: takes a holiday at Curve Gallery until August 8 explores the creative potential of expanded horizons.
Todd Fuller's projected animation pays homage to Paris, the most romanticised of destinations in which he set himself an ambitious order of a major work a day for 90 days.
Curve is committed to showing new media works but the light-filled gallery always poses a challenge. Better served are a number of strong graphic works by artists from the Hunter, New York and Ireland, as well as soft sculpture and textile work.
Emily Valentine Bullock wins friends with her appropriation of the feral Indian mynah bird forming provocative feathered squadrons. Wherever they roam for inspiration, it bears remembering that artists never truly take a holiday.
- Nigel Milsom's win in the Archibald has made welcome headlines and the painting earns its due as a "destination" artwork. A visit to the Archibald is also a reminder of the hierarchy of the hang, and how placement can make or break a work.
The portrait of Milsom by Matthew Kentmann was light of touch, presenting a quietly reflective subject, while Rachel Milne's portrait of retired Maitland Art Gallery director Joe Eisenberg in the Salon des Refusés at S.H. Ervin Gallery was more solid in its gravitas. John Morris also made the Salon cut with his Wynne entry, all ethereal winter sky and summit.
- For those who missed Andrew Styan's installation The Bell Buoy in Newcastle last year (and likely didn't see it in situ when it won the national graduate award in Perth a few months ago), Stills Gallery in Paddington is showing the work until August 29.
While coal ships feature in plenty of picturesque studies of the Pacific ocean off Newcastle, few artists - with some notable exceptions - are engaging directly with the Hunter's role in climate change. The sublime mountains of coal over at Kooragang are represented in a single black nugget in Styan's multi-media work, but his compelling statement reaches well beyond the local politic and into the global.
- The recognition of pattern in nature has evolutionary value - spot the leopard before it spots you - and its appeal for artists is never out of vogue. Finishing today is Pattern Observation at Gallery 139.
It's a broad category, and a range of visually appealing repetitions feature: Vicki Gerritsen's subtle gouache striations, Jay Muldoon's intricately drawn, quasi-Celtic motifs and Lezlie Tilley's hard-edged, formal cut-outs.
In figurative works such as Andrew Finnie's prints and Bridie Watt's bouquets the en masse impact relies as much on colour as pattern. Almost stealing the show from the stock-room is an early Peter Lankas painting teeming with tropical urban rhythm.
- Further exploiting the potential of pattern is Unspoken at Nanshe Studio Gallery. Paintings by Lisa Pollard draw on a tapestry of blues and greens to infer (but never illustrate) an organic, nautical natural world, while Jill Orr stays in the garden of earthy delights.
Poppies have proven an enduring subject, local colour and bold design, making an offer to the senses hard to resist. The larger work is especially dynamic. As a regular feature, Barb Nanshe's jewellery matches the high notes of her current artists. Crowning all is a selection of adventurous millinery by Jennifer O'Brien, more spring fair than winter wear.
New exhibitions have just opened at Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, including exquisite shell works by Tasmanian jeweller Lola Greeno.
At Newcastle Art Gallery this is the final weekend to see Sydney 6, featuring the work of three creative couples: the Hinders, the Lewers and the Plates. Much of this work is from the Newcastle collection, along with well selected loans.